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February 23, 2001

U.S. Foreign Policy: 'Will There be More Unilaterlism'?

ver the last three weeks, a series of Bush administration actions have been criticized in the overseas press as "unilateralist" and reminiscent of the Cold War mentality. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's pro-U.S. missile defense (MD) statements, the decision to bomb Iraqi radar sites, and Secretary of the Treasury O'Neill's recent remarks on U.S. trade policy were all seen as indicators that America will single-mindedly pursue its own interests above all else--and, without seeking international consensus. Observers in Europe, the Arab world, Asia, Latin America and Canada wondered if these events signified U.S. disinclination to seek multilateral solutions to global security, humanitarian and environmental issues, and whether they marked the end to the post-Cold War period and the special transatlantic alliance. A number of analysts contended that the rest of the world should form economic and military alliances to deal with the challenge posed by the U.S. A minority of opinionmakers, however, (mostly found in Western Europe and conservative Canadian outlets) were not as disturbed by the prospects of a strong and resolute superpower--a role, several stressed, America was "destined to play." Some contended that with an experienced foreign policy team, the Bush administration would skillfully navigate the international maze, and the global community would, in the end, appreciate their "clearer" vision of American foreign policy. Highlights follow:

EUROPE, MIDEAST: For many writers, the clearest manifestation of U.S. unilateralism--and a potential threat to transatlantic alliance cohesion--was U.S. missile defense. Others were anxious about economic policies. A French paper worried that Secretary O'Neill's interview in London's Financial Times indicated that the U.S. has "no intention of participating in international cooperation." Echoing the sentiments of other media voices, Milan's business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore warned that "all these issues together are the result of increasingly deeper differences between the U.S. and Europe." Some editorialists in NATO countries, however, were more sanguine. They contended that relations with the U.S. were too important to be sacrificed, and that Europe should embrace a strong America, unafraid to move against its adversaries. The Arab media was uniformly angry about the U.S. strikes against Iraq, depicted as reflecting "U.S. arrogance and unilateralism in decision-making."

ELSEWHERE: Chinese media were adamant that MD "would strengthen the U.S. tendency toward unilateralism." The official Global Times joined others in contending that the U.S. is "looking for enemies everywhere" so that it can 1) justify MD; and 2) "secure America's hegemony in the world." Others in Asia worried that the Bush administration might abandon "even modest attempts at international economic cooperation." Brazilian papers also wondered how much the U.S. would cooperate on trade matters. A more optimistic view prevailed in Ottawa's conservative National Post, which stated that President Bush would "naturally look for points of agreement with his counterparts, not points of contention."

EDITOR: Diana McCaffrey

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 75 reports from 44 countries, February 5-23, 2001. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.


BRITAIN: "When Blair Meets Bush"

The liberal Guardian editorialized (2/23): "Mr. Blair is right to argue that the choice between the European Union and the United States is a false one--we can and should stick with both. A close alliance with the world's sole superpower is a British interest, and Mr. Blair cannot sensibly do other than nurture it.... But that does not mean serving as a faithful lapdog. Instead the prime minister can act this weekend as an emissary from Europe, telling Mr. Bush some uncomfortable truths. He might begin by explaining that the Republican flirtation with 'America alone' notions of unilateralism make no sense.... Mr. Blair can even offer a deal. He might tell Mr. Bush that he could help him work out a plan for collective missile defense acceptable to European allies and others so long as the president and his top brass, including his hawkish defense secretary, to stop branding EU's plan for a rapid reaction force a threat to NATO. That would be a useful deal to come home with--and proof that Mr. Bush is a man with whom Mr. Blair can do business."

"A Testing Time For The Special Relationship"

Gerard Baker, Washington correspondent of the independent Financial Times, commented (2/22): "When he arrives in Washington...Tony Blair will find himself in the uncomfortable position of being the first British prime minister for 50 years to be electorally decoupled from the American president.... Unless something truly remarkable happens in the next few months, President George W. Bush's victory last November will not be followed by a Conservative triumph at the British general election.... The decoupling of the U.S. and British election cycles cannot help but add to the unsettling sense that the special relationship is ageing.... The United States no longer relies heavily on the counsel and support of its oldest ally. The unilateralist approach of the Bush administration...increasingly demonstrates Washington's detachment.... Mr. Blair's desire to continue to play the traditional British role of bridge between America and Europe looks increasingly hopeless.... Missile defense is not something U.S. planners or U.S. members of Congress are about to abandon. The appointment of Donald Rumsfeld...ought to have disabused the complacent British.... If anyone was in doubt that Britain's bridge across the Atlantic was trying to span an ever larger gulf, last week's bombing of Baghdad should have disabused him. Mr. Blair will be reassured by the warmth of the Texan hospitality that he can still play the familiar role. This will be the greatest self-delusion of all."

"A Superpower Whose Overriding Objective Is To Make Sure Its Will Is Unchallenged"

An opinion piece by London Mayor Ken Livingstone in the centrist Independent read (2/21): "My position on the necessity of armed intervention has always been clear. I do believe that there are circumstances in which it is right for the international community to intervene.... But the latest foray into Iraq is part of a pattern of U.S. foreign policy in the region, which is breathtaking in its hypocrisy and totally counterproductive.... The hypocrisy of successive U.S. administrations towards the Middle East is its most consistent feature.... World reaction to the latest military intervention has been rightly hostile, and Britain's participation does not bode well for the next big challenge, which is to persuade George Bush's government to pull back from its plans to tear up the international agreements on nuclear defense. Many liberal commentators welcomed the collapse of the Soviet Union with optimistic forecasts that the end of the Cold War would lead to a future in which peace would prevail. In fact, world stability and peace are threatened by a superpower whose overriding objective is to make sure its will goes unchallenged. Central to this strategy is the creation of the National Missile Defense system."

"A Pragmatic Conservative"

The independent Financial Times offered this lead opinion (2/16): "The new president of the United States calls himself a compassionate conservative. His treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, is a pragmatic one. It seems wise to place equal weight on both adjective and noun. Mr. O'Neill's approach to the global financial system will be more conservative than that of his two predecessors. But he is no ideological fanatic. As a business executive, he is interested in what works. What the world can see is a powerful conservative instinct tempered by the pragmatism the business executive. How this will work out either in policy terms or in specific policy actions remains, unavoidably, obscure. Yet the right assumption for all outsiders to make is that this administration will be less interventionist than its predecessor, though it will intervene forcefully when it sees vital U.S. interests at stake. These attitudes are clear enough, so far as they go. The rest of the world must react and seek to clarify accordingly."

"U.S. Diplomacy: Real Concern Is More Unilateralism"

According to an editorial in the independent Financial Times (2/15): "For the outside world, the most reassuring aspect of the new U.S. administration's foreign policy team is its depth of experience.... A more worrying question for America's partners is quite how well such an array of powerful personalities will work together.... Mr. Bush is an inexperienced president surrounded by heavyweights vying for his attention. He will need all his skills of mediation to weld them into a team and persuade them to set clear priorities and policy guidelines.... So far the indications from Mr. Bush have been reassuring.... There is going to be no isolationism. Nor is there much inclination to fight small wars. The real concern, however, is whether there will be more unilateralism.... It will take months for the new team to settle--but crises such as that in the Middle East will not go away. Mr. Bush has chosen a line-up of stars for his international team. Now he has to prove he can manage them."

FRANCE: "A New Transatlantic Misunderstanding"

Jean-Claude Casanova commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/21): "It would appear that the United States is dead-set on its NMD program, which corresponds with its own vision of the world.... It could be that the great shield the Bush administration is dreaming of may not come to pass. But European objections will not deter the United States. The only option for Europe is to become as powerful as the United States, in cooperation with it.... If there is no such cooperation, and if the United States persists in its defense strategy, what will Europe gain?... Let us avoid a new controversy that would convince the United States that Europe's defense initiatives are nothing but a mask to weaken NATO.... For the United States to exercise the role it is destined to play because of its power, its history and its principles, it must find in Europe a strong ally and enjoy France's support. If there were to be a serious crisis, Europe would come out weakened and France diminished."

"Bush Team Favors International 'Laissez-Faire'"

Gilles Biassette remarked in Catholic La Croix (2/20): "Paul O'Neill's remarks at the G-7 were very educational. They shed a light on the Bush team's intentions regarding economic matters: It is clear the administration has no intention of participating in international cooperation.... His interview in the Financial Times illustrates his lack of enthusiasm for international dialogue and for international commitment.... The image left by O'Neil, in spite of his attempts to pacify his European counterparts, is of an America little inclined towards international cooperation and bent on 'laissez-faire.' A rather worrisome attitude."

"Bush Affirms Predominance Of U.S. Strategic Interests"

Patrice de Beer opined in left-of-center Le Monde (2/15): "President Bush paid strong homage to NATO, saying it is 'the reason why history hasn't known a third world war' and he has asked Europeans to show more unity and cooperation with the United States.... 'We are allies and also friends:' The new administration affirms that, but would like the EU to also be aware of this.... To answer his Allies' worries about the withdrawal of GIs in the Balkans and about NMD, the president wanted to be reassuring while repeating Mr. Rumsfeld's admonition: The United States has no intention of abandoning its commitment to NATO.... Is the calling for mutual cooperation on both sides a disguised way of criticizing the European defense policy, to which the Bush team seems much more hostile than Clinton's?"

"The Post Cold War Era Is Over"

Andre Fontaine commented in left-of-center Le Monde (2/9): "The post-Cold War era, when no one stood to counter the United States, is over. Russia is everyday more intent on reminding everyone of its existence. Li Peng said during a trip to India that China preferred a multipolar world to a unipolar one.... Europe itself has hopes of reaching this goal.... While George W. Bush has the support of big investors who finance military equipment manufacturing, it would be a simplification to suggest that this is the reason for the NMD program.... But the Bush team is sold on the idea nevertheless.... This is enough to worry the well as the French and Germans.... It is clear that Bush and his advisors are not 'Europe firsters.' His first trip abroad will be to Mexico. He will visit Europe only this summer, for a G-7 summit. In the meantime, he will concentrate on NAFTA.... Quite clearly, the Bush administration's desire is to take the lead rather than seek a consensus with its allies, even if to date, not a single door has been closed. Putin at least, has understood that it is fruitless to encourage Washington's 'unilateralists,' who care very little about the world's reactions. It is time for EU leaders to do the same and understand that the best, if not the only way to be heard is to agree on a common position."

"After Clinton And Barak: The Era Of The Worst"

Jean Danile observed in left-of-center weekly Le Nouvel Observateur (2/8): "Gore was not sufficiently charismatic? Possibly. Barak was not coherent? Maybe.... But the day will soon come when we will miss both men.... For Bush, the number-one enemy is once again Saddam Hussein.... Many Arab leaders, (and their allies in Europe) have not yet realized that what they called 'Israeli-American' proposals were in fact the fruits of exchanges between Clinton and Barak. The proposals went against the wishes of the American Jewish lobby and against those of the Knesset.... What Colin Powell has indicated is that neither he nor the president has any intention of personally getting involved in the peace negotiations.... Bush is more interested in the Pacific rim than in Europe or the Middle East. Otherwise, why would he support NMD?... When American diplomats are told that there is a risk of a split between NATO and Europe, they show their skepticism and arrogance as they predict that France is the only nation risking isolation.... But the hyperpower may be wrong in its assumptions about Britain and Germany. Because transforming the United States into a sanctuary would trigger an era of new dangers.... The post-deterrence era of the 21st century."

GERMANY: "Global Politics Without Partners"

Josef Joffe stated in left-of-center weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (2/23): "The air strikes signaled...the new resoluteness in Washington. But those who want to organize a containment policy, need allies, otherwise every wall will have holes. The United States alone is unable to stop the flow of arms technology.... That is why unilateral moves cannot be the principle, even though some of the new people in the power center in Washington do not want to accept it."

"U.S. Safeguarding Its Status As Sole Superpower"

Regional radio station Suedwestrundfunk of Stuttgart aired this commentary by S. Bohne (2/20): "The Russians are now mobilizing their forces in the propaganda sector. The Russian proposal to the Europeans to develop a joint missile defense system together cannot be taken seriously from a military standpoint. It aims at stirring up European unease about NMD, since the European NATO partners are afraid of two things: the revival of an arms race and the development of zones of different security in the North Atlantic Alliance.... But in the end, such zones will result in the disintegration of transatlantic cooperation. This means that NMD does not have much to do with military necessity or a political rationale, but does have much to do with the United States striving to safeguard its status as the sole superpower, even if it results in a new era of confrontation."

"Beyond Upper Volta"

Moscow correspondent Tomas Avenarius judged in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/21): "President Vladimir Putin can considerably disrupt U.S. dominance. But all threatened countermeasures against this dominance are counterproductive. The re-equipment of Russian missiles with multiple warheads would cost money but not yield anything. A nuclear conflict between Russia and the United States can currently be ruled out. Moscow could also try to take advantage of the disagreement in the West on NMD, and try to drive a wedge between the Americans and their Allies. One attempt became visible on Tuesday, when the Russians handed over plans for a 'European missile protection shield' to NATO's Secretary General Robertson. But, in the end, this will not yield anything, either. Neither the French nor the Germans would give up their close relations with the United States. And if Moscow even shipped weapons to 'terror regimes,' it would threaten itself, because the radical Islamic states are located much closer to Russia than to the United States. The same problem exists with respect to NATO's enlargement to the East. If NATO accepts the Baltic states, Russia will rattle its saber. But what kind of profit could Russia draw from transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus? For Russia, the issue is to redefine its new role to such a degree that it finally becomes congruent with the possibilities the country has. Money and energy must be used to push ahead with political and economic reforms, set up a post-Soviet industry and make Russia an attractive market. The significance of a power is no longer determined by its ability to exterminate another states. A precondition of major power status is a politically and economically sound state that is also convincing as a military power. Everything else is tantamount to a repetition of the Soviet model, to an 'upper Volta with missiles,' even if they could outmaneuver a U.S. missile shield."

"The Strategic Threshold"

Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger said in a report in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/16): "People know that President George W. Bush does not consider the future role of the U.S. military to be the separation of warring parties in a civil war. U.S. forces wage wars, but he considers it a pity to use them for peacekeeping and reconstruction purposes. Only a few, at least not all Allies, will like this view of burden-sharing in the Atlantic Alliance. And a distribution of the burden according to the slogan 'America for the world, Europe for Europe' would be too shortsighted as far as history and security policy are concerned. However, the political signal to the Americans and to the international community that the times of 'interventionism' are over, and that, as of today, U.S. forces will be send abroad only after careful consideration, is less clear than we think. Threats today are diverse and unpredictable, and multi-faceted factors will co-determine the decision on military intervention. The clarity of the operation against Iraq, which was based on the clear risks of 'vital' U.S. and Western interests, should be an exception in the world of today and tomorrow."

"The Dream Team Could Turn Into A Nightmare"

Stephen Fidler argued in Hamburg's right-of-center, business Financial Times Deutschland (2/15): "When new President George W. Bush presented his foreign policy team, even his opponents conceded that he found a strong crew. But now it is already becoming clear that...Bush's foreign policy may not be determined only by normal differences of opinion, but also by a medium-sized quake. That is why the governments around the globe could be faced with a long period of uncertainty.... The Allies interpreted [Secretary Rumsfeld's speech at the Munich security conference] as saying 'accept the fact that we will deploy NMD.' A few days later, however...Colin Powell used a totally different tone when he said it is 'our task to demonstrate to our Allies, Russia, and China that NMD is resonable.'... These differences indicate the beginning of a problem that could affect U.S. foreign policy as a whole. The neo-conservatives--represented by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz--follow a philosophy according to which the United States should maintain and extend its supremacy. For them, the United States is no isolationist country, but a power which should not be afraid of using its military means. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, however, are traditional conservatives and much more cautious when it comes to the use of the military. They emphasize the limits of U.S. power abroad. If President George W. Bush...feels a closer relationship with Powell and Rice...then his foreign policy will not be characterized by a new self-confidence abroad, but by a gradually declining U.S. engagement on the international stage."

ITALY: "Eurofears"

Classical liberal Il Foglio (2/22) opined that the initial European reaction to the Bush administration has been "very cautious, with a few exceptions: There is obviously respect for the priorities that George W. Bush has given himself, there is the clear intention not to open premature disputes, and there is also the clear goal of activating soonest diplomatic 'sensors' aimed at knowing more about the intentions of the leader in charge of the only superpower left.... The prevailing concern in European capitals regards a less 'Atlantic' America, more intent on defending its European 'sanctuaries' and its own global interests rather than on strengthening the Euro-Atlantic 'security community.'... Much will depend on how Bush will mediate between the strong personalities in his administration, who already seem to be divided into two distinct groups: the group of the 'hawks'--Cheney and Rumsfeld--and the more pragmatic group led by Powell and Rice."

"Differences And Identity Of Views Within The Atlantic Alliance"

Ugo Tramballi commented in leading, business Il Sole-24 Ore (2/21): "We know at this point that George Bush wants to preserve and affirm America's power in the world, rather than close America up in its wealth, away from the world (this is a unilateral, and not isolationist, approach). The heart of the matter is not Saddam Hussein, Russia or China. The real problem is that all these issues, together, are the result of increasingly deeper differences between the United States and Europe. The Alliance between the two sides of the Atlantic will dominate the next four years of the Bush administration. To an unprecedented extent since the landing in Normandy, the Allies will wonder whether this solidarity among democracies still has a political meaning, whether it needs to be redefined, and even whether it deserves to survive. Nothing is eternal, including an alliance that has already won the war for which it was put together. We should deal with the problem without dramatization. If everything seems to divide us from our opinion about Putin and China to bananas and audiovisual products, from the death penalty to social security that probably means that the Atlantic Alliance has come to the end of its propelling role, as has already happened in the case of other historical processes. But are we really sure that we no longer need each other? Nobody can deny reality: oil and the reconstruction of Iraq make many Europeans ignore Saddam's brutality, and American military-industrial circles see the missile defense as a major business opportunity. But these considerations should not be more important than the political and moral project that still unites us and has not been achieved yet. The West has something else to offer to the world in addition to missiles and money."

"The '89 Armed Truce Is Over"

An editorial in provocative, classical liberal Il Foglio asserted (2/15): "A return to the past: This is how the Bush administration's foreign policy is seen by the Russian foreign minister.... Everyone knows that an era is over, the post-Cold War era, a decade of transition during which Bill Clinton's America felt that it was necessary to help Yeltsin's Russia.... In the meantime, the Americans have discovered terrorism that strikes at home and abroad and the 'rogue states.'... The desire to defend themselves has grown considerably.... George W. Bush wants a more complete and intimidating space shield than the former Democratic administration, and he will build one. This decision will inevitably lead to tension with Moscow...and with Europe, not to mention China.... The post-Cold War era is indeed over."

RUSSIA: "A Dialogue Of The Deaf"

Aleksandr Golts, referring to the Wehrkunde Conference, said in reformist weekly Itogi (2/15): "Frankly, the battle of Munich between Cold War veterans from the Bush team and their [Russian] opponents...was easily won by the former.... While in theory, the Kremlin advocates a multipolar world, in practice, it regards ties with the United States as its topmost priority. The new U.S. administration, however, pays no attention to Russia's complexes. Aware that the Kremlin does not like the role they have assigned it, the Americans have decided not to enter into polemics, pretending that Russia does not exist at all. Hopefully, it is not a strategy but negotiating tactics to make the partners in Moscow cool off and take a sober look at contemporary reality. It does not look like a reasonable tactic, though.... There will be no return to the Cold War, of course--Russia can't afford it. But it can well mire in self-isolation, becoming the largest of rogue states, something neither Russians nor Americans want.... After all, with a country occupying half Eurasia, you can't really pretend it does not exist."

"Enemies All Round"

Dmitry Gornostayev commented on President George Bush's statement at Norfolk on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2/15): "Remarkably, the new American administration, speaking of its military and political concept, often uses the words 'threat' and 'danger.' Of course, the president did not call those threats by name, as CIA Director Tenet had done before him. Even so, their statements, basically, are the same in tenor--there are enemies all round."

BELGIUM: "Working With The UN"

Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert commented in independent Catholic De Standaard (2/16): "George Bush and his administration know very well that the United States cannot be the policeman of the world by itself. Actually, this is something which the leading conservatives like Colin Powell and his colleague at the Defense Department, Donald Rumsfeld, do not want. The 'neo-conservatives' may dream of an America that is strong and fearless and that pushes mankind--if need be with weapons--in the right direction, but, on the contrary, conservatives like Powell want a sparing use of military force. This means putting the emphasis on diplomatic means and thus, inevitably, working with the UN. In this regard, the Bush administration did not get off to a good start with the announcement that, no matter what, it would go ahead with NMD.... This is not likely to generate the good will of other UN Security Council members, which Washington will need in its confrontation with Iraq where it cornered itself.... Criticizing Clinton for his 'soft' approach of Saddam Hussein was easy. But George Bush has no other means. His administration must take into account and see to it that the UN Security Council finds a formula which enables it to state that the objective of the sanctions--getting rid of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction--has been reached and that the sanctions are thus no longer necessary."

"States' Interests Prevail Over Universal Concept"

Edouard Van Velthem wrote in left-of-center Le Soir (2/16): "Globalization is a term in fashion. But in the field of justice, it always stumbles over the notion of sovereignty.... Big countries--and it is certainly no coincidence if the United States is in the same position as China and Russia--have more to lose than to win from an international criminal tribunal which, for instance, could look into atrocities in Chechnya and repression in Tibet, or closely monitor the deployment of U.S. troops abroad. The overwhelming weight of 'realpolitik' always prevails over the notion of human rights. In spite of its shortcomings, Washington, Moscow, and Beijing continue to satisfy themselves with the UN Security Council system, where their status as permanent members gives them a right of veto. Although it happens to other countries, they do not want that others interfere interfere in their domestic affairs.... But, if George Bush's expected 'no' can paralyze the nascent court, it will not be sufficient to revert a dynamic system which must be seen in the long term."

"Who Will Take Care Of Rest Of World When There Is No Longer A Global Power?"

In an op-ed column in liberal weekly Knack magazine, Ghent University international relations professor Rik Coolsaet opined (2/15): "The United States continues to be the leading power in the world, but in certain fields, it is closely followed or even surpassed by the EU--which is now even taking its first steps in regional defense and foreign policy matters. Like the Europeans, the rest of the world takes Washington's preferences less into account. Russia is seeking a reconfirmation of its power in its region. China has the natural tendency to turn its growing economic power into regional power, preferably together with Japan. In Africa, South Africa, together with Nigeria and Algeria, are drafting a large-scale recovery program for the continent--for and by the African states themselves.... The United States, too, is concerned, above all, about its own continent. Washington no longer feels responsibility vis-à-vis the rest of the world: as few humanitarian operations and multilateral obligations as possible; security through a domestic system and not through international treaties; the willingness to act unilaterally, rather than through multilateral fora. However, who will take care of the fate of the world when there is no longer a global power?... Today, creative proposals for a global administration, global networks and new international organizations are circulating. Only a few regional powers are needed to back those ideas and to make them become reality. As a matter of fact, there is such (an idea) that should be carried out quickly. If everybody is convinced that we will be confronted with threats of missile attacks by rogue states, why shouldn't we create an ad-hoc international organization--something like the International Atomic Agency in Vienna that sees to it that countries do not produce nuclear weapons? The Americans are determined to (build the NMD) unilaterally, no matter what the consequences are. However, if the Europeans come up with a constructive counterproposal, it may make our world tomorrow a bit more predictable. Indeed, we do not necessarily have to drift about with the current of time. We can also use our oars and our helm to steer our boat."

"A Cold War Diplomacy"

U.S. affairs writer Philippe Paquet observed in independent La Libre Belgique (2/14): "With the appointment of Richard Armitage to the job of deputy secretary of state, George W. Bush has completed his team of foreign policy which can easily be seen as the 'dream team' of which the Republicans are so proud, but which is also among the oldest in the country's history and seems to come directly from former administrations. Indeed, Mr. Armitage--55 years old--was Ronald Reagan's deputy Secretary of Defense and has been a friend of his new boss, Colin Powell, for 20 years. At the Pentagon, George Bush chose Donald Rumsfeld, 68...whose number two is Paul Wolfowitz, 57, who served in the State Department under Reagan and at the Pentagon under Bush father. Without forgetting Vice President Dick Cheney, 59, who was the latter's secretary of defense and intends to keep control on international and military questions, and the new National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, 46, who was also part of the first Bush administration as a USSR and Eastern Europe specialist.... Yet, observers in Washington are already detecting bitter rivalries between the actors, as a result of the unprecedented dominance that the vice president intends to exert. Reportedly, the atmosphere is not precisely 'ideal' between Mr. Cheney and Ms. Rice, nor between Messrs. Powell and Rumsfeld.... It is also a fact that the members of George Bush's dream team were already in office during the Cold War. It is not certain that they aren't still thinking in such terms. In any case, the fact that there is some hesitation is obvious, as illustrated by Condoleezza Rice's contradictory statements. In an interview she gave to '' during the campaign, she stated that 'the United States should not perceive Russia as an enemy.' Yet, she just told 'International Policy' that 'Russia is a threat for the West in general and for the European countries in particular.'"

FINLAND: "Powell's Practical Approach"

Leading, independent Helsingin Sanomat declared in its lead editorial (2/6): "The Bush administration has begun transforming campaign promises into policies. There have already been some surprises. It is to be hoped that the initial signals augur moderate Republican policies, which have served the country well in the past. The greatest surprise was caused by Secretary of State Colin Powell...whose practical approach was reflected in the first long TV interview during which he actually changed or modified several of the Bush campaign key issues. At the same time, he showed his independence by disagreeing with Bush's decision to prevent state funds from going to international organizations which handle abortions. From the European perspective, the most important point was Powell's assurance that NATO troops will remain in the Balkans for years to come. Powell also struck a conciliatory tone on national missile defense, promising that decisions would not be made until negotiations with Russia and China had been conducted."

THE NETHERLANDS: "U.S. Forces Europe To Go Its Own Way"

Influential, independent NRC Handelsblad carried an op-ed by researcher Rob de Wijk (2/21): "If the new American administration continues to manifest itself as the only superpower left, then Europe will only have one choice: building up its own position separate from the United States. Strengthening the European political union and boosting European defense will then become essential.... The recent bombings of Iraq should be seen as a political signal to Saddam Hussein--to make clear he should not joke with the new administration--but also as a political signal to the rest of the world--to make clear that illegal oil exports are unacceptable. Nevertheless, Bush is playing with fire.... The new president is not paying enough attention to the consequences these bombings have for international relations. While the Islamic world reacted furiously, European Allies were divided. All this puts pressure on the transatlantic relations."

POLAND: "Europe Is Just Musing"

Kazimierz Pytko opined in center-left Zycie Warszawy (2/21): "President George W. Bush, by sending aircraft against Baghdad, also sent two very important signals. The first message was addressed to dangerous dictators who like to check how far new occupants of the White House will let them go; the rapid response [from President Bush] should now leave them no doubts. The other message, addressed to U.S. Allies, was equally important. The president cut short speculations about America giving up an active foreign policy and plunging into isolationism.... Bush junior made it clear he is not going to let anyone tease America. It is such determination that distinguishes the Yankees from their European allies.... When the slaughter continued in the Balkans, Paris, Bonn, and Rome were issuing many lofty but empty statements. When the Americans finally entered the action, they began to shoot instead of talk-consequently, Slobodan Milosevic is not a dictator any more but a potential prisoner."

PORTUGAL: "More Openness, Integration, Intervention, Multilateralism Needed"

Senior editor Teresa de Sousa contended in moderate left Público (2/16): "A new international order built on the basis of the law of the strongest, where power and confrontation are the dominant rules, does not correspond to European interests, to the rich and unique experience of European integration, or to its universal values. Even if Europe is on the same side as the strongest. Even if it shares with America a set of civilizational values.... Everyone know that the 'pariah states'--from whose attacks the U.S. allegedly intends to protect itself--are not North Korea, Libya or Iraq. NMD will be contructed against China. And it won't protect the United States, whose power was never as great as it is today, or Europe from the true 'threats' of the era of globalization: poverty, extreme nationalism of all origins, terrorism allied to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, epidemics, and the ever greater division between the rich and the poor. Peace and stability in the era of globalization demand openness, integration, intervention, multilateralism. More democracy, more justice and less confrontation. That's the world Europe is interested in."

SPAIN: "End Of The Post-Cold War Period"

Center-left El Pais commented (2/13): "The post-Cold War period has ended. What comes next, symbolized by the beginning of George W. Bush's presidency, has no name but promises a new world.... The new administration is being formed and its ideas are germinating. The reduction of the nuclear arsenal was an election promise.... The contemplated reduction also makes more presentable the anti-missile defense program which has taken hold of U.S. public opinion. What is not clear at all is whether it will work.... Bush aims to reorient U.S. security policy.... The strategic revision will also have to take into account new threats, ranging from terrorism with weapons of mass destruction to environmental disasters."


EGYPT: "The Cop And Thug"

Nabil Omar wrote in pro-government Al Ahram (2/20): "We may not accept the United States as the global cop...but we might surrender to that role, since it is the sole superpower today.... Surprisingly, the United States would rather play the role of world thug instead. A cop enforces international law for everyone...but a thug enforces its own law primarily to show power and hegemony, regarding its own interests over others.'... This is exactly how the United States is acting with Iraq. We are not defending Saddam Hussein, who is an embodiment of human crime...and a tyrant.... His people are paying the price of the world thug's if the United States allied itself with Saddam to humiliate the Iraqi nation. It pretends to help the Iraqi people turn against its president...which is a laughable pretext.... Iraq was not the real target of the [American] raid. It was only a site used to declare the strength of the new American administration.... It is a message to the spectators in the theater...that the ease the sanctions on Iraq is unacceptable, since the sole player on the stage resolved to maintain Iraq under the blockade. This is the flagrant thug."

ISRAEL: "The Iraq Litmus Test"

The independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/19): "Ultimately, President Bush's policy toward Iraq will determine whether he plans to continue a 'policy' of fudging and denial raised to the level of a high art, or be a leader who will demonstrate that the West is not powerless against weak but brutal local bullies like Saddam Hussein. The litmus test is not what happens with sanctions, but whether the United States leads the way in supporting the Iraqi people against a hated and dangerous regime."

JORDAN: "Tense Atmosphere Prior To Colin Powell's Tour"

Semi-official, influential Al-Ra'i observed (2/20): "The U.S.-British raid against Baghdad was met by world condemnation, not only because it was unjustifiable and lacked international legality, but also because it marks an unexpected start for a new administration that has previously said that it is going to adopt a rational policy in the region.... The use of force has proved to be futile and the region cannot take any more of those arrogant measures. It is time for dialogue and peace to win over war and violence."

LEBANON: "Diplomacy In The Language And Logic Of War"

Ghassan Tueni wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/19): "Striking Iraq (a real brother) with American and British jets deserves more than denunciations and...burning flags in the streets.... The American-British air raid against not a mere 'message.'... It is an inauguration of a new style in diplomacy, which will perhaps be the slogan of the new American era.... It is 'diplomacy in the language of war.' Diplomacy...with airplanes, bombs, destruction and innocent people getting killed, because in the Arab world--from Palestine to Lebanon to Iraq--we were engaged in a war America was party to during Clinton's days. Now Bush jumped into the middle of this war and with a violence that was not practiced by Clinton.... We suggest that Arab foreign and defense ministers meet immediately."

OMAN: "Extent Of U.S. Arrogance, Unilateralism"

Egyptian Mohammed Naji Amairah wrote in independent Al Watan (2/17): "The new American-British bombing of Iraq is unjustifiable. The allegations and pretexts offered by Washington and London are convincing nobody.... [We hope that] the slumbering international conscience will wake from its hear that the U.S.-British justifications...linked to international resolutions have no legitimacy. The same principle applies to the unjustifiable seige and sanctions policy imposed on the Iraqi people, which every day reveals the extent of U.S. arrogance and unilateralism in decision-making."


The Jeddah-based, English-language Arab News declared (2/18): "Faced with such helplessness in dealing with a broken, defeated and hungry nation, what can the sole superpower do to prove its toughness other than fire a few bombs at a safe target? Let us remember that there was no air surveillance of Iraq when it was needed--when its military was eliminating the population of the southern areas. Of course, people die. But do a few deaths matter when when two presidents [Iraqi and American] are trying to prove that they are tough."

SYRIA: "Aggression Against Iraq; Intention And Real Goals"

Elias Khouri commented in government-owned Al-Baath (2/20): "There was no legal, moral or humanistic justification for the Anglo-American raid against Iraq.... The United States seeks to maintain the state of affairs in Iraq so as to maintain its military presence permanently in the region. Ending the crisis and cementing peace in the region will automatically dictate withdrawing its forces."

TUNISIA: "Provocation!"

Mohammed Ben Youssef claimed in independent, French-language weekly Tunis Hebdo (2/19): "To strike Iraq this way, the United States wants to show to the world, including its traditional allies, that [it] remains the global policeman and the 'incontestable master' on the scene!... It is high time that Washington opens its eyes and stop treating Arabs as second class persons, because for several years an active public opinion has emerged in most of the Arab countries, where the United States has strategic interests to defend.... Bin Ladin's shadow is everywhere."

"Strange American Priorities"

An editorial by Senior Editor Noureddine Hlaoui in independent, French-language Le Temps held (2/14): "Since Colin Powell took charge at the American department of state, observers have had one surprise after another.... While Arab public opinion has a high regard for the new team at the White House...and expects it to develop a new, dynamic role in the Middle East peace process, until now the opposite has been the case. Bush and Powell distanced themselves from former President Clinton's initiatives to advance the peace process and announced their intention to encourage the parties to negotiate directly with each other.... Instead of giving the very critical situation in the Middle East its due importance, the new head of the State Department has adopted three positions that analysts consider strange and aggressive.... The first position is the administration's support for the infamous anti-missile program...which could lead to a new arms race. Then there is America's position against lifting the sanctions against Libya even after the announcement of the Lockerbie verdict.... Finally, as recently as last Monday, Powell confirmed his intention to rebuild the 1990 coalition against Iraq. This position is completely at odds with the efforts by the international community--with the exception of the United States and Great Britain--to support the lifting of the embargo.... The American positions on these matters are strange because they give priority to out-of-date and even non-existent issues."


Sharjah-based, pan-Arab Al-Khaleej asserted (2/18): "The least that can be said of the American-British aggression against Iraq is that it is the deed of a gangster based on the law of the jungle imposed by Washington and followed by London and Israel. Aggression like this should not go unheeded as in previous cases, because it signals that Washington and London have no intention of changing their aggressive tendencies toward the region."


CHINA: "NMD Would Strengthen U.S. Tendency Toward Unilateralism"

Official, English-language China Daily featured this piece from Xinhua news agency (2/22): "Sha Zukang, Chinese ambassador for disarmament, said that the missile defense system...would further strengthen the U.S. tendency toward unilateralism and the tendency to use or threaten to use force.... 'People can imagine, after the deployment of the MD, that the U.S. will not sit idly in this impregnable 'Fortress America.'... Its omnipresent 'national interests' and its zealous 'sense of mission' will drive this MD-shielded superpower to embark on a crusade to seek and strike at 'countries of concern' all around the world with even higher enthusiasm and adventurism,' he said."

"The U.S. Looks For Enemies Everywhere"

Meng Qinglong commented in the Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao, 2/15): "At a Senate hearing...the U.S. CIA director claimed that China poses a severe threat to U.S. security by seeking the status of a great nation in the world.... Looking for enemies everywhere, the United States is to find an excuse for continued development and deployment of the NMD system, and to promote the U.S. economy by stimulating the war industry.... The United States wants to seduce China and Russia to begin an arms race and economically defeat the two rivals just as former President Reagan did to the former Soviet Union, so that it can permanently secure America's hegemony in the world."

"Differences Between U.S. And Europe On Issue Of European Security"

The Pro-PRC Macau Daily News had this editorial (2/8): "The differences between the United States and Europe on the issue of European defense policy is an inevitable outcome of the contradiction between a unipolar world, which the United States is attempting to establish, and the trend toward multipolarization."

SINGAPORE: "What's That Again?"

The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (2/22): "It was perhaps understandable why new American Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill put his foot in his mouth last week, when he signaled, on the eve of a G-7 finance ministers' meeting, that the Bush administration would adopt a hands-off approach to the global economy. It was his first foray into international economic diplomacy; he is a blunt man, used to speaking his mind in the private sector, and the media may well have been tendentious in reporting his views.... The question is...does Mr. Bush's economic policy team have a grasp of how the United States might go about shoring up international financial structures, or will it approach the matter ideologically? What Mr. O'Neill's G-7 colleagues may have found alarming was not so much the substance of what he said, but the underlying assumptions. The failure to stop financial crises from developing, he had said, was a failure to let markets operate freely.... If it was meant as an assertion that capitalism, by definition, can never fail, that any attempt to regulate its operations internationally can only distort its operations, and that governments have no business intervening in financial crises--then the statement does cause alarm. If the Asian financial crises of 1997-98 taught the world anything, it is that markets need regulatory frameworks, including the rule of law, in order to function properly.... As the events of 1997-98 showed, the world lacked multilateral structures to ensure the availability of information or a mechanism to enforce responsibility among creditors. The Financial Stability Forum is one attempt to create such structures. With proper leadership, especially from the United States, it can help establish global prudential standards and codes of conduct; it can define how best highly-leveraged institutions, like hedge funds, can be supervised, and it can study how future financial crises can be better managed. It would be a shame if some narrow ideological parti pris led the Bush administration to abandon even such modest attempts at international economic cooperation."


BANGLADESH: "Bush's Foreign Policy In Rough Waters"

The centrist Independent's op-ed article held (2/19): "American foreign relations appear to be sailing through rough waters. Although experienced defense and foreign affairs experts surround President Bush, recent events seem to be challenging for him. It appears that two incidents have left American foreign policy in a quagmire. The Bush administration has made it clear that Japan will be the priority for its foreign policy in Asia, rather than China. This policy differs sharply from that of the Clinton administration. The submarine accident appears to be potentially damaging to the strengthening of the Japanese-American relationship. The second incident is the air strikes on Baghdad. The two incidents demonstrate how volatile the political world can be, and the United States, the only superpower, may not find the implementation of its foreign policy as easy as it would like. An effective foreign policy requires an informed and sensitive understanding of the interests and values of nations which are not like the United States. It is hard to see any of this happening quickly, because the United States perceives what is good for it to be good for other nations. Before the penny drops, the United States may have to suffer more expensive and risky foreign policy failures during President Bush's term."

INDIA: "Ghost From The Desert"

The centrist Asian Age's columnist S. Nihal Singh wrote (2/22): "It would seem that W's obsession with Saddam Hussein is clouding his administration's judgment in framing a new foreign policy. The crux of George W. Bush's foreign policy as it has been elaborated is that the United States will choose its areas of intervention selectively and strike hard to make its power prevail when it decides to move.... Its fixation on Iraq is in danger of distorting its perspective. As it is, the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation is causing unease in many Arab capitals and this central issue will continue to cast a long shadow. A more belligerent American posture on Iraq will serve to feed those inimical to American interests while making the lives of regional rulers more uncomfortable. If Powell follows the new U.S. defense secretary in his style of consultation in the form of the lecture the latter gave NATO allies on the merits of the national missile defense plan a combustion in West Asia would not be long in the making."

"Bully Ram"

The centrist Times of India commented (2/21): "Clearly, the United States is rushing to court unpopularity across the world, contrary to expectations that the Bush national security establishment would conduct itself with a degree of sophistication.... The U.S. policy in the first month of president George Bush is suggestive at once of a lack of coherence and hegemonic arrogance.... The Bush administration has possibly set a record for alienating so many nations in such a short period."

"Not A Heroic Act"

The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (2/19): "The survival of an apparently hale and hearty Saddam Hussein a decade after the Gulf war is something which the Americans evidently cannot stomach.... His tyrannical rule evokes no admiration. In fact, the sooner he goes the better, although his successors will probably be no less oppressive. But the point is something else.... It is that there will be little endorsement for the kind of unilateral punitive action taken by an overwhelming powerful country against a puny, though widely disliked, opponent. What is worse, the target is really the leader, although it is the ordinary people who have to bear the brunt of such offensives, which include the continuing sanctions. It is a seeming replay of the David vs. Goliath legend, except that there are no heroes in this conflict."

"Spot The Difference"

The nationalist HindustanTimes observed (2/10): "A common belief outside the United States is that there isn't much to choose between the Republicans and the Democrats. What is more, whatever little ideological differences there were earlier appeared to have been largely obliterated in the post-Reagan, post-Thatcher period when the economy has become the main driving force of Western society.... There have been policy decisions in at least four areas by the Bush administration which show that even compassionate conservatism can be quite distinctive from the new liberalism. The areas are the 'son-of-Star Wars' national missile defense program, Taiwan, abortion and the proposed involvement of religious organizations in social work."


CANADA: "Chrétien Meets Bush: A Chance To Change"

The conservative National Post observed (2/5): "Mr. Bush has several positive reasons to look South first, but his coolness toward Canada might also be a calculated response to the growing anti-Americanism exhibited by Mr. Chrétien and his cabinet. By limiting Mr. Chrétien's access to a 30-minute formal discussion and a tightly scheduled dinner, the president is serving notice that Mr. Chrétien has some bridge building to do. It is hard to imagine a North American politician more opposite to Mr. Chrétien than Mr. Bush--a fiscally and culturally conservative oil man--but personality and political style are not the main problem with this new relationship. The root cause is a warrantless and reflexive anti-Americanism in Ottawa.... It has been a Liberal tradition, since the days of Pierre Trudeau, to indulge in anti-American rhetoric for domestic political reasons. But stridently declaring one's opposition to whatever the United States wants does not substitute for knowing what Canada wants. This Liberal rhetoric not only taps a strong seam of anti-Americanism, it also reinforces an ugly, petty and defensive Canadian nationalism that does us no good.... There is no better moment than now, at the beginning of a new U.S. administration, for Mr. Chrétien to set a positive first impression in Washington and to set Canadian diplomacy on a new and more sensible course. Mr. Bush has proved, through his generous dealings with Democratic congressmen over the past week, that he naturally looks for points of agreement with his counterparts, not points of contention. Foreign policy should be conducted in the national interest; Canada has national interests that do not always coincide with those of the United States. But that is the exception rather than the rule, and an intelligent and successful foreign policy would reflect this."

"A Worrisome America"

Mario Roy wrote in centrist, French-language La Presse (2/5): "Fifteen days after having moved into the White House, Bush has already: eroded the rights of the most vulnerable women, those in developing countries...named ultraconservatives to the key posts of health and justice...expressed the intention of creating a new 'light' version of Star Wars...given a glimpse of how little he cares about the environment by announcing he would favor the intensive exploitation of Alaskan natural resources...dangerously reduced the distance between state and church.... Both the Chretien government and Canadian public opinion, already uncomfortable with the image being projected by the former Texas governor, are certainly not inclined to be involved in a high-orbit military deployment. And even less see politics mixed with religion neither here nor by such a formidably powerful neighbor. Especially if this hard nosed ideological attitude taking shape were to be carried to trade relations. There would then be a cultural and economic shock which could eventually erode the long standing friendship with our southern neighbors."

BRAZIL: "Bush Administration Fundamentalism"

University of Campinas in Sao Paulo state Professor Otaviano Canuto commented in center-right O Estado de S. Paulo (2/20): "Differences between foreign policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations are clearer. Before completing a month, the new government ordered the first attack against Baghdad since 1998, without consulting the UN. The style opposes the consensus of foreign partnerships that marked U.S. military intervention during the Clinton administration. In the economic area, last week was marked by Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill's skeptical statements regarding intensive coordination efforts between national policies to stabilize the markets. O'Neill's 'frankness' was at least constraining.... Actually the secretary showed his disregard vis-à-vis interventions in financial and stock markets.... Apparently the Bush administration is less interested in widening international 'financial security networks,' including financial rescue operations and multilateral institutions actions, such as the IMF and the IDB."


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